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Tom J

1192 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2009 :  11:56:20  Show Profile  Visit Tom J's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by seejay2

Thanks for the accolades guys! Electronically, I'm not going anywhere. I still will check in every day as I do now; sometimes several times a day. I just won't be making the routine trips to the "Old Country" the way I used to. We are moving mom to Lowell where she can be watched over a little better, and there is a good chance I will be in your neighborhood, Tom, by next year.
Yeah, Ken, "Jack's" is still there and I will get the photo for you on the next trip. I'm sure something will attract me right back to Hessville easily enough as you mention, Tom......Cj



CJ:

Man, once you get down here, we are gonna have to get together and have some MAJOR reminiscing sessions. You will be just an hour and fifteen minutes away from me.

Tom

A 1967 Graduate of Hammond High who cherishes his memories of growing up in the Hammond of the 1950's and 1960's. Bring back those days!

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seejay2

USA
676 Posts

Posted - 05/10/2009 :  12:40:02  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by wvcogs

Cj,

Whether or not you make any more trips back to the old country, I hope to hear more from you on the forum. In the meantime, how about one more pic -- Jack's Carry Out? It is still there, isn't it? And it's fairly close to your Mom's house.

Thanks for all the information and pictures you have provided up to this time. Keep in touch.

Ken

We took mom out to breakfast for Mother's Day today, so here ya go, Ken. One of the very few (if not the only) places in the original building, carrying the original name.....Cj






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Tom J

1192 Posts

Posted - 05/10/2009 :  13:20:46  Show Profile  Visit Tom J's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm not from Hessville, and I had never before even heard of Jack's, but it still THRILLS MY SOUL that SOMETHING is still the same as it was in the days of our youth. I'm happy for you "Hessvillians" that you have this place still around.

Thanks, CJ.

Tom

A 1967 Graduate of Hammond High who cherishes his memories of growing up in the Hammond of the 1950's and 1960's. Bring back those days!

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wvcogs

USA
564 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  08:51:15  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Cj - Thanks for the pics of Jack's. Here are one of your pictures and one from the ad section of an old Morton yearbook. The two of them are separated only by fifty years, a new sign, a new front door, and what must be a new paint job.
Ken...



Edited by - wvcogs on 05/12/2009 22:10:57
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Bill Bucko

USA
359 Posts

Posted - 05/13/2009 :  00:33:38  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Ken. I prefer the old look.

For those not from the neighborhood, the store fronts on Kennedy Avenue, across the street and one very long block south of the original Flick's Tap. Beyond the store you can see part of the huge vacant lot that had a few towering dead oak trees. In the far distance, that's 165th Street. It must have been down 165th that Shep hitchhiked to Hammond High, several miles to the west (and got that ride from Josephine Cowznowski's uncle).* 165th is the only nearby street that connects to the west side of town, since the vast prairie, Indiana Harbor Belt's Gibson yard and the Sinclair tank farm occupied all the territory for quite a ways north.

* (Surely you remember Flick's ill-timed quip: "D'ya think ace here is gonna score tonight? I hear them Polish girls invented sex!"--repartee that later was to have dire consequences.)

Bill

Warren G. Harding Class of '63

Edited by - Bill Bucko on 05/13/2009 00:37:02
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Tom J

1192 Posts

Posted - 05/13/2009 :  06:52:11  Show Profile  Visit Tom J's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the background info, Bill.

I lived just six houses north of 165th on Woodward Avenue, but that was a couple miles west of Kennedy. You would have crossed Indy Blvd and Columbia Avenue before getting to Woodward.

Tom

A 1967 Graduate of Hammond High who cherishes his memories of growing up in the Hammond of the 1950's and 1960's. Bring back those days!

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linbu

27 Posts

Posted - 05/18/2009 :  14:01:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can't tell you how happy I was to stumble upon this site! I was born and raised in Hessville, along with my 4 brothers and 1 sister. I've only read a bit, but it sure brings back memories. As I get older, I'm forgetting a lot of things, words and places slip my mind, but the more I read, the more I remember. I was born in 1948 and lived in the same house, on California Ave., until 1970. Mom and dad lived there for 60 years and finally moved to Lowell about 7 years ago. I spent my childhood at Hessville park, skating, swimming, and flirting. I can't wait to read more and I will be keeping track of you all. Thanks!
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Tom J

1192 Posts

Posted - 05/18/2009 :  14:38:56  Show Profile  Visit Tom J's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by linbu

I can't tell you how happy I was to stumble upon this site! I was born and raised in Hessville, along with my 4 brothers and 1 sister. I've only read a bit, but it sure brings back memories. As I get older, I'm forgetting a lot of things, words and places slip my mind, but the more I read, the more I remember. I was born in 1948 and lived in the same house, on California Ave., until 1970. Mom and dad lived there for 60 years and finally moved to Lowell about 7 years ago. I spent my childhood at Hessville park, skating, swimming, and flirting. I can't wait to read more and I will be keeping track of you all. Thanks!



Welcome, Linbu!

Even though I am from another part of Hammond, I still enjoy reading the posts in here where folks reminisce about their younger days in Hessville.

Do you have any memories of Downtown Hammond to share? There is a separate thread about Downtown, if you would care to contribute. It seems that no matter which part of Hammond folks are from, they share a love for Downtown.

Tom

A 1967 Graduate of Hammond High who cherishes his memories of growing up in the Hammond of the 1950's and 1960's. Bring back those days!

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linbu

27 Posts

Posted - 05/18/2009 :  14:47:01  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Oh, I remember taking the bus from Hessville to downtown, going to the Parthenon or Paramount, Kresges, Goldblatts, etc. I remember the day the Dave Clark 5 came to town! What a thrill. It was so safe back then. My, how things have changed. BTW, I remember Bill Bucko, lol.
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linbu

27 Posts

Posted - 05/18/2009 :  19:44:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, I'm only to page 14, from age 18, but it sure is interesting reading. So, yes, we went to the roller dome on Goslin St., I was a patrol girl at 171st and Kennedy, I see mention of a 6th grade teacher named Miss Blount. My 6th grade teacher was Miss Blunt. Same? I had Mrs. Bailey, Mr. Black, and Miss Jane too. I remember Miss Virden (ol tractor shoes), Mr. Ruff, and all the others mentioned. Anyone remember Mr. Jancich? He came along later, very tall guy, but I really liked him. I was in his history class the day JFK died. I'm going ack to read some more.
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linbu

27 Posts

Posted - 05/18/2009 :  21:14:10  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Posted - 06/03/2007 : 19:41:13
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOW There was a WALTER Johnson, from OPMorton, who went on a dance TV show in Chicago. He's passed away though. Does anyone remember him? I just want to say that there was just one more Johnson WHO is NOT related to me. All you Johnson's who are on this site.... was he related to any of you?


Walter Johnson was my big brother. He used to go every Saturday to Chicago and dance. We'd sit home and watch him on tv. (He was going with Jackie Savich, or soming like that. (She was homecoming queen, 1950, I believe.) Wally's gone now, along with my sister DeeDee (Marie) and brother Tommy.
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Alan Vandever

USA
87 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2009 :  16:32:28  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Linda, I wonder if you remember Tom Roop? He lived in Hessville on California but I don't know the address.
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Paddy

USA
141 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2009 :  21:13:56  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by linbu
... we went to the roller dome on Goslin St.


Ah, the Roller Dome. I don't remember the owner, but I sure remember his daughter who worked there. It has been so long that I don't remember her name, but I thought that she might become my first love.

I biked to the Roller Dome and skated every chance I had. She was a guard, or whatever they were called, who enforced the rink rules. She was beauty in motion, turning on a dime to warn skaters who were bending the rules or flying after scofflaws and whistling them off the rink. I have no idea why we got along, but we struck up a relationship.

Out of the Blue, she enrolled at Noll when I was a sophomore, which made me believe that God had answered my prayers. But within a few months, she was gone from Noll and the Roller Dome. I later learned that she was dating a sailor, and my suspicion was that she got preggers. It just took all the fun out of skating at the Roller Dome.
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S C Jones

USA
448 Posts

Posted - 05/21/2009 :  10:22:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Paddy,
I met that daughter in New Mexico. I may have the story a bit convoluted, but either her father and mother divorced or her mother died. Her father remarried and she and her step-mother were never compatible. (I am trying to remember her name, too.) She lived in Nashville, TN. for a time and one street over from me. In a lawsuit that seemed to go on forever (I did not keep up with it, but knew of its happening.) she was fighting her the step side of her father's family. She went back to Hammond and was working to remodel and revitalize the Roller Dome and I haven't heard from her since--that was in the early to mid 1990's. I have a friend who may be able to remember her name. I'll check.....
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linbu

27 Posts

Posted - 05/21/2009 :  14:13:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nope, I don't remember Tom Roop. Sorry.
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S C Jones

USA
448 Posts

Posted - 05/21/2009 :  15:33:01  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Paddy, the name was Pam Mitchell--and here is the site for the story of the closing of Roller Dome in 2008---
http://www.thetimesonline.com/articles/2008/09/21/news/lake_county/doc81b91553085cbfb3862574ca00802edb.txt


quote:
Originally posted by Paddy

quote:
Originally posted by linbu
... we went to the roller dome on Goslin St.


Ah, the Roller Dome. I don't remember the owner, but I sure remember his daughter who worked there. It has been so long that I don't remember her name, but I thought that she might become my first love.

I biked to the Roller Dome and skated every chance I had. She was a guard, or whatever they were called, who enforced the rink rules. She was beauty in motion, turning on a dime to warn skaters who were bending the rules or flying after scofflaws and whistling them off the rink. I have no idea why we got along, but we struck up a relationship.

Out of the Blue, she enrolled at Noll when I was a sophomore, which made me believe that God had answered my prayers. But within a few months, she was gone from Noll and the Roller Dome. I later learned that she was dating a sailor, and my suspicion was that she got preggers. It just took all the fun out of skating at the Roller Dome.



Grand Park Subdivision 1940-1961 Boondocks of Hessville!
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Tom J

1192 Posts

Posted - 05/21/2009 :  21:40:39  Show Profile  Visit Tom J's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Nice work, S.C.!

A 1967 Graduate of Hammond High who cherishes his memories of growing up in the Hammond of the 1950's and 1960's. Bring back those days!

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S C Jones

USA
448 Posts

Posted - 05/21/2009 :  22:47:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Tom J.

quote:
Originally posted by Tom J

Nice work, S.C.!

A 1967 Graduate of Hammond High who cherishes his memories of growing up in the Hammond of the 1950's and 1960's. Bring back those days!



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linbu

27 Posts

Posted - 05/23/2009 :  17:24:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Does anyone here remember Monkey Hill? It was across the tracks from us, off the 7000 block of Calif. I wonder if we kids gave it that name or if it had been called that for years. We all used to go sledding there. There were some seldom used train tracks just a hair north of the hill and we were all told to stay off those tracks and the box cars sitting there. We, of course, didn't, and my brother Tommy ended up breaking all the fingers on one hand when Ricky Brakely rolled the door shut just as Tommy was climbing in. We had to lie our butts off to my mom and she never found out the truth until 1970, after Tommy's funeral.
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seejay2

USA
676 Posts

Posted - 05/23/2009 :  19:06:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I always knew it as Monkey Hill. What happened to Tommy? I didn't know he had passed......Cj

Edited by - seejay2 on 05/23/2009 19:08:02
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linbu

27 Posts

Posted - 05/23/2009 :  19:16:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Gosh, if you played on Monkey Hill, I have to know you, but the name doesn't ring a bell. Tommy committed suicide in 1970. Wally died when he was about 42, and Dee (Marie) died in 1999 at age 52 from a stroke.
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seejay2

USA
676 Posts

Posted - 05/24/2009 :  07:24:19  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't remember you from the Hill, but I did bump into you and Mardy occasionally when I used to deliver those annoying flyers and circulars for Goldblatts, and whoever, all over the Eastgate area. We chatted a few times in school, too.
If you go to the "Trains" topic, about 20% of the way down, I put up a pic there of my brother and I, in front of a loco wheel, when we were kids. I'm on the right...Cj

Edited by - seejay2 on 05/24/2009 07:32:24
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seejay2

USA
676 Posts

Posted - 05/24/2009 :  15:20:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey Ken,
I just made one more trip to the 'Old Country', and your old apt building (the one across from the IBEW on 165th) is gone!....Cj
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wvcogs

USA
564 Posts

Posted - 05/24/2009 :  22:27:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by seejay2

Hey Ken,
I just made one more trip to the 'Old Country', and your old apt building (the one across from the IBEW on 165th) is gone!....Cj

Thanks Cj. That's the best news I've heard in a long time. The couple years we spent in that little apartment were not the best years of my life.
Ken...
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seejay2

USA
676 Posts

Posted - 05/25/2009 :  19:03:22  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, it never did have the propensity of becoming the next Trump International Hotel in Hessville.
I'm glad you won't become too morose over it's disappearance.....Cj
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Joel357

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 05/25/2009 :  22:27:45  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It is also a shame(?) that Kennedy Park Apartments was torn down. But that may also be a good thing on second thought.

Joel
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Paddy

USA
141 Posts

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  22:33:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by S C Jones

Paddy, the name was Pam Mitchell--and here is the site for the story of the closing of Roller Dome in 2008
Your news had me pumped, but alas, Pam was not the one.

I met my "Lady of the Roller Rink" around 1955-56, so I suspect she was the daughter of the original owner.
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S C Jones

USA
448 Posts

Posted - 05/28/2009 :  14:28:56  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aww, I'm sorry Pam wasn't the "Lady of the Roller Rink" .

quote:
Originally posted by Paddy

quote:
Originally posted by S C Jones

Paddy, the name was Pam Mitchell--and here is the site for the story of the closing of Roller Dome in 2008
Your news had me pumped, but alas, Pam was not the one.

I met my "Lady of the Roller Rink" around 1955-56, so I suspect she was the daughter of the original owner.



Grand Park Subdivision 1940-1961 Boondocks of Hessville!
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Paddy

USA
141 Posts

Posted - 05/29/2009 :  22:42:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by S C Jones

Aww, I'm sorry Pam wasn't the "Lady of the Roller Rink" .
So am I. It would have been a hoot to find her and tell her how much I was smitten.
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svea3

USA
223 Posts

Posted - 05/30/2009 :  12:25:32  Show Profile  Send svea3 an ICQ Message  Click to see svea3's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Welcome to another LINDA
and another JOHNSON too


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svea3

USA
223 Posts

Posted - 05/30/2009 :  16:37:38  Show Profile  Send svea3 an ICQ Message  Click to see svea3's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
All right I was swept back into the 50's and the world of Burr Tillstrom. He and his kuklapolitan players were on from 6-6:30pm. Now this stuff was better than ever news programs. Ollie was my favorite,but there was always Bulah the Witch's marvelous hair!
Remember Ollie was always stealing Kukla's red ball nose!
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Tom J

1192 Posts

Posted - 05/30/2009 :  20:10:31  Show Profile  Visit Tom J's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by svea3

All right I was swept back into the 50's and the world of Burr Tillstrom. He and his kuklapolitan players were on from 6-6:30pm. Now this stuff was better than ever news programs. Ollie was my favorite,but there was always Bulah the Witch's marvelous hair!
Remember Ollie was always stealing Kukla's red ball nose!



I think this post was supposed to go on the other thread? No biggie.

Oh, wow, I had forgotten all about Beulah the Witch! Thanks for reminding me.

Tom

Edited by - Tom J on 05/30/2009 20:12:48
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seejay2

USA
676 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  09:00:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Another piece of Hessville, one that has been there for more than 50 years, has closed on Friday. This was St. Catherine of Sienna school. It is a part of my life as my class was the first to graduate out of there in '63. It is being blamed on declining enrollment (this is true) and "difficult financial times", both true. But why? Like several other schools and churches (St. John Cantius comes to mind) that have closed, they depended on tuition to survive. As time went along, the givers (those who fronted the tuition) were out numbered by the takers (those who paid nothing).
Now they can go to a 'free' government school that teaches them how to believe, rather than one that taught how to think.

We moved my mother out of Hessville on Thursday. This, sadly, puts the place where I grew up behind me...Cj
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S C Jones

USA
448 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  12:01:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
CJ:
You are suffering a lot of loss at one time. Sadly, as you say, the times have changed and the losses just keep coming.

On May 28 my Hessville next door neighbor who was as much a mother to me as I ever had died at the age of 91. Her name was Shirley Aumiller and she shared her family with me and my brothers. A woman who was all heart.

All we can do is mourn the losses in our lives, allow the sadness of happy memories that we will not be able to replace, and continue to make new memories as we live in the moment.

Thank you for expressing your loss of school and "home".
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Tom J

1192 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  12:49:55  Show Profile  Visit Tom J's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Sorry, CJ. I know that place had to have meant a lot to you.

My old elementary school, Wallace, was torn down, and a new school was built. I would love to see the old building and the "portable."

My Jr. High, Washington, is long gone.

Hammond High is probably not long for this world, either.

Let's go back and re-live our childhoods! I would do it in a heartbeat, and I would not change a THING!

Tom

Edited by - Tom J on 05/31/2009 12:50:21
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linbu

27 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  14:22:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Shirley Aumiller. Now that name rings a bell. Where did she live?
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seejay2

USA
676 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  18:16:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I saw that in the paper about Shirley, but I remember a Rich Aumiller from somewhere....Cj
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S C Jones

USA
448 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  19:43:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Shirley had three children Marvin, Richard and Shirley Jean. Jean was the only one to graduate from Morton. They lived in the Grand Park community of Hessville--off 173rd over the Nickel Plate RR tracks and before Grand Avenue. Shirley's sister married a Hess.


Edited by - S C Jones on 05/31/2009 19:44:14
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linbu

27 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  19:56:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I remember a Rich Aumiller too. For some reason, I'm connecting this name with the Brakely family. Maybe one of them married one of their 9 kids?
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wvcogs

USA
564 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  21:39:42  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
S C - According to the Hammond city directory I have, it's in the 7200 block of Maryland. Does that sound right? Also, we had a Shirley Ann Hess in our Morton class of 1960.
Ken...
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S C Jones

USA
448 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  22:43:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yes, Ken, that is the block they and I lived on. I don't know the Shirley Ann Hess, but she may have been a niece of Shirley Aumiller.

quote:
Originally posted by wvcogs

S C - According to the Hammond city directory I have, it's in the 7200 block of Maryland. Does that sound right? Also, we had a Shirley Ann Hess in our Morton class of 1960.
Ken...



Grand Park Subdivision 1940-1961 Boondocks of Hessville!
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S C Jones

USA
448 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  22:46:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No, but Mr. Aumiller had several brothers who lived in the area, so Rich may be a relative, but not one of the immediate family who lived in my neighborhood.

quote:
Originally posted by linbu

I remember a Rich Aumiller too. For some reason, I'm connecting this name with the Brakely family. Maybe one of them married one of their 9 kids?



Grand Park Subdivision 1940-1961 Boondocks of Hessville!
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svea3

USA
223 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  20:31:07  Show Profile  Send svea3 an ICQ Message  Click to see svea3's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
I remember a Richard Aumiller and the Hess also. Good one KO
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zonie

1 Posts

Posted - 06/08/2009 :  07:15:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This site is very cool. I lived on the corner of 165th and Colorado for 18 years. I graduated from Morton in 1975 but my brother would have been in the class of '63 if he hadn't joined the army. My grandma lived with us, worked at Goldblatt's and was a founder of the Baptist church that was across the street from Shep's house. What I remember most about Warren G Harding (I went k-5) was when I was in Kindergarten (Mrs. Wild) our class room was in the old building that was still being used by the high school and whenever the fire alarm would ring the high school kids would come streaming through our room (we were in the big room farthest west with a door to the outside). They would pick us up and carry us outside to wait for the all clear. I think some of my classmates actually set off the alarm once or twice to get the free ride. Thanks for jogging all the great memories.
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Tom J

1192 Posts

Posted - 06/08/2009 :  16:25:28  Show Profile  Visit Tom J's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by zonie

This site is very cool. I lived on the corner of 165th and Colorado for 18 years. I graduated from Morton in 1975 but my brother would have been in the class of '63 if he hadn't joined the army. My grandma lived with us, worked at Goldblatt's and was a founder of the Baptist church that was across the street from Shep's house. What I remember most about Warren G Harding (I went k-5) was when I was in Kindergarten (Mrs. Wild) our class room was in the old building that was still being used by the high school and whenever the fire alarm would ring the high school kids would come streaming through our room (we were in the big room farthest west with a door to the outside). They would pick us up and carry us outside to wait for the all clear. I think some of my classmates actually set off the alarm once or twice to get the free ride. Thanks for jogging all the great memories.



Welcome, Pamela! Make yourself at home and join in the discussions!

The more people we have sharing their cherished memories, the more fun we have around here. One person's posting of a memory of a person, a place, or an event almost always jogs the memories of other folks, and we often end up with some really cool discussions.

Tom
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S C Jones

USA
448 Posts

Posted - 06/08/2009 :  19:41:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Pam,
Welcome, and any memories you can add to our site, we will be happy to hop in with our own that arise from your posting.

I had an uncle and aunt who lived on Colorado, about a half block from 165th--Both have since died and their children have all moved out of the area--which is true of many of us on this site.


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Joel357

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 06/08/2009 :  21:12:03  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Since the topic has reverted to Hessville, does anyone remember the Dietrich family? Dean, the father and a Hammond cop, June the mother and graduated from Hammond Hiigh in 1942 and also worked at the Orchard Park grade school. Gary, Sue and Ron. They lived close to Carney's and their house was off of GRand. They donated some land to the Lutheran church. They were good friends of my parents and we used to go camping together during the early to late 1960's

Joel Miner
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svea3

USA
223 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  12:40:41  Show Profile  Send svea3 an ICQ Message  Click to see svea3's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Did they own a Ice Cream store on Hohman? I remember my mother taking me to Dietrich's on the way home to Hessville from downtown Hammond. My mom used to say the they had the BEST chocolate in the entire world. I remember that ice cream taste to this day. It is the standard which I still use. They were they were just an old family of Hammond
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Joel357

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  17:05:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No they didn't, completely different family than the Dietrichs'who owned the ice cream store. Dean was a Hammond cop from the mid to late 1940's to around 1968. He then worked for the federal government.

Joel
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Jim

46 Posts

Posted - 07/08/2009 :  09:00:26  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was doing more "Google" work on Lost Park and found this article posted at nwitimes.com. Sorry if it has been posted before, but this archive is getting big. Links have a tendency to be broken quite easily so here is the entire article. Enjoy.

Hessville is suspended in time
Guest Commentary by Wayne Machuca
Sunday, June 30, 2002


Most people have never heard of Hessville. If Hammond were an "L," Hessville would be a neighborhood in the bottom right portion. But, most people have never heard of Hammond, either. In fact, when most people ask you where you are from, you are most likely to say "Chicago," of which most people do know, or "near Gary, Indiana," which will cause most people to sing a stanza from the old Robert Preston movie "The Music Man."

Hessville, where I grew up, was and continues to be a town suspended in time.

Walk down Kennedy Avenue, and the only way you can tell which decade it is by the cars on the road, which rust out every five years because of the salt spread on the streets each winter. The neighborhoods have narrow, tree-lined streets named after other places or people long forgotten, with houses covered with brick or aluminum siding, or both. The homes are typically white in order to reflect the blast from a nuclear bomb -- or so they say.

My little street was named Parkway because it leads to a small, obscure playground that was called "Lost Park" because it was so difficult to find. Its proper name was "Gibson Park," even though Gibson Street was actually a few blocks away. Perhaps that is why the park is "Lost."

If there were one word to describe Hessville, that word would be "consistency." In Hessville in the 1960s, everybody worked in the steel mills. Everybody was a Democrat. Everybody went to church. Everybody's grandparents came from someplace else. Everybody's mom stayed home. Everybody was a Cubs fan. Everybody spoke in sentences that had prepositions at the end of, and nobody ever, ever got a divorce. The world was the mills to the north, U.S. 30 to the south, and the occasional Sunday afternoon trip to Grandma's house in East Chicago for chicken and to sit quietly while the adults spoke Polish.

It was during the summers that we would go to Lost Park and play Indian Ball -- a sort of "baseball without bases" that you play when you can't get enough guys and have to "imagine" base runners -- that I began to notice that many of the homes had peculiar little flags in their windows. Small and rectangular, these red bordered, white flags had a small blue star in the center. Sometimes there would be two blue stars. Sometimes there would be three. Often, my friends would speak about their older brothers who were off someplace called Vietnam.

As kids, we would often imagine our own gallantry and heroics battling some unknown foe in a place so far away. We had no idea who the Viet Cong were or why they were so bad. For us, the images of war were as simple as the old black-and-white war movies we saw on TV. The good guys were good because they were good, and the bad guys were bad because they were bad. We did not understand the politics or the protests, much less the multisyllabic mysteries of the "military industrial complex." We did not understand why the college students were so upset. If they, too, were Democrats, then why were they fighting in Chicago? My father would get angry and say things to the TV like, "It doesn't matter what you think. Those are our boys over there!"

Soon, many of the small blue stars in those small peculiar flags began to change into small golden stars. And that was when my world changed.

One day, my parents took me to my uncle's house to visit with my cousin Tommy.

What was left of him was shipped home from Vietnam to heal. In our family, he was a hero. He was machine-gunned in some forgotten battle by those same dreaded Viet Cong and yet survived. I remember sitting by him as he lay on the sofa, watching TV and laughing. My other cousins were laughing. I was laughing. But it was a different kind of laughter. It was a melancholic laughter with the knowledge that we almost lost Tommy. And for me, it was the realization that there were other Tommys for whom there would be no more laughter. At that moment, the men and women in Vietnam became real people to me.

NPR asks, "What is my connection with history?" My answer is that whenever I think of home, whenever I think of my childhood, whenever I sing the national anthem at the beginning of a baseball game, I think about the men and women who are sent off who knows where, who knows why, to do who knows what -- and do. And why do they do this? Is it so I could continue to play Indian Ball in a park called "Lost"? Could it be as simple as that? Well, probably not. But whether they are in Asia or Eastern Europe or East Africa or Iran or Afghanistan, the fighting men and women are Americans. They are our sons and our daughters. And they are our history.


Wayne Machuca of Visalia, Calif., a 1978 graduate of Hammond's Morton High School, is now teaching at College of the Sequoias in California.

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